The infinite runner has become extremely popular on mobile platforms for fairly obvious reasons. They require only one digit to play, which is perfect when you're being crushed by someone on a train on your daily commute to work.
On PCs and consoles they haven't fared as well thanks to those platforms not being restricted in their choice of input methods. Anything from a 14 button joypad controller to a VR set up is available to these platforms so a 'runner' is a bit of hard sell for them.
EarthNight addresses this by placing a very strong emphasis on the skill and timing of the player as well as giving them greater interactivity in the world. I spent some time with EarthNight at PAX West 2017 and I was happy that I did, as based on the early build I experienced I'm really impressed by it.
EarthNight takes place in a time when the world as we know it is no more. Ravaged by dragons, humanity has been forced to flee to into space to avoid the devastation that has been wrought onto the world by these giant fire-breathing creatures.
Tired of living in the cold void of space two people, Stanley the freelance photographer and Sydney the 14-year-old high school student join forces to wipe out the dragon menace and return humanity to its home.
No, I'm not regaling you tales of a fevered dream I had recently; this is genuinely the backstory to EarthNight. This sets up an amazing experience, I can assure you!
The player takes on the role of either Stanley or Sydney as they run along the backs of these dragons, smiting beasts and collecting food and money as they do. Why there are these things on the back of these destructive beasts is never actually explained, but who cares? I mean, what's a runner without collecting things and bashing them along the way eh?
EarthNight moves at a blistering pace and requires the player to really focus on where they are headed rather than what they are doing. As with most 'runners', EarthNight requires the player to place their attention on what is scrolling in from the right hand side of the screen as their character runs at rapid pace along the undulating back of the rampaging dragons.
While EarthNight is a 'runner' it is not strictly infinite. Each level ends with the character getting to the head of the dragon and killing them by stabbing them in the brain stem, causing them to fall from the sky. As they do so the player leaps to the next dragon and the destructive run across its back begins again, only this time it's a little tougher and longer too.
The look of EarthNight is one of the many things about it that caught my eye. A hand-drawn style has been adopted for the game in a similar vein to Braid, only the animation is far more fluid as is the colour, which is much more vibrant and contrasting.
The sound is of similar quality with an excellent score running through the experience that in its own way encourages the player to keep going as it threads its way through EarthNight.
I really enjoyed my time with EarthNight and was really impressed with its overall presentation and the importance it placed on the player's experience. This is a common feature I am encountering more with games of late as developers become more focused on what the player is feeling over and above the mechanics of the game. There is a huge sense of satisfaction when completing a level in EarthNight that is very hard to replicate and credit needs to go to Cleaversoft for emphasising such an experience.
EarthNight is due to the be released on PS4, Vita, Windows PC and Mac later this year.